Doc. 9659

16 January 2003

Follow-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development: a common challenge


Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs

Rapporteur: Mr Alan Meale, United Kingdom, SOC


Ten years after the Rio Earth Summit, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) took place in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September 2002. Its aim was to confirm the concept of sustainable development based on a balance between the three main strands of development: economic, social and environmental.

The Summit reaffirmed the industrialised countries’ commitment to sustainable development and the desire to continue and renew North-South dialogue, one of the primary objectives being to reduce extreme poverty and provide as many people as possible with access to water.

Implementing the decisions taken in Johannesburg requires specific action on the part of governments and the setting-up of numerous partnerships between civil society and the institutional sector.

Convinced of the importance of the issues at stake and of the efforts which must be made at all levels if the undertakings given in Johannesburg are to be fulfilled, the Assembly requests that more emphasis be given to the follow-up to the WSSD in the Council of Europe’s intergovernmental work programme.

The Parliamentary Assembly further proposes to continue its co-operation with the European Parliament with a view to ensuring parliamentary monitoring of the undertakings given by member states with regard to the environment and in particular the Kyoto Protocol.

I.       Draft recommendation

1.       In 1992 the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro adopted the Rio Declaration in which environmental protection and social and economic development are designated as essential for ensuring sustainable development. A programme of action, “Agenda 21”, was laid down in order to achieve this development.

2.       Ten years later, the condition of our world is just as alarming and the results of the measures taken in Rio are disappointing. Deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions are increasing, access to water is still not secured to the majority and exhaustion of resources continues. The situation is scarcely better with regard to development: cases of inequality and utter destitution are on the increase. In addition, environmental problems and sustainable development are still nowhere near the top of our governments’ policy action programmes.

3.       The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September 2002 reaffirmed the central role of sustainable development, stressing the need for global action to combat poverty and depletion of natural resources and for active protection of the environment.

4.       It is therefore a welcome fact that the Summit succeeded in closely linking together as a dual objective the fight against environmental degradation and poverty eradication.

5.       The Assembly notes with satisfaction that the Summit concluded with the adoption of the anticipated texts, viz. a political declaration and a definite programme of action setting out the priorities and the requisite measures for implementing Agenda 21.

6.       An additional benefit of the Summit was to unite governments, NGOs and enterprises in an extensive programme of voluntary partnerships with the aim of furthering sustainable development at local, national and international level. Here it is important to emphasise the soundness of these partnerships provided that they are not formed to the disadvantage of the most deprived and vulnerable populations.

7.       Having regard to the negative assessment made of the follow-up to the Rio Summit, it can be asserted that the Johannesburg results go beyond those obtained in Rio, in that the governments at Johannesburg decided on a number of undertakings and tangible objectives for actions to achieve the goals set.

8.       In this respect, the Assembly emphasises and especially welcomes those of the objectives which seek significant reduction of the number of persons in a state of extreme poverty and of those without access to water and sanitation.

9.       Conversely, it regrets that the Summit did not fix any objective for promoting forms of renewable energy, and that apart from fishing, the decisions in the field of biodiversity and natural resources were rather low-key.

10.       Regarding the Kyoto Protocol, it is regrettable that a small but significant number of Council of Europe member states have still not taken the step of ratifying this instrument, thereby obstructing its entry into force.

11.       In other respects, it must also be acknowledged that the Johannesburg Summit made no advance in the area of the institutional reform needed for a new world governance involving a review of the sustainable development role of the World Trade Organisation and of the World Bank, besides which the creation of new world-wide environmental organisations could be envisaged. The Assembly is in fact convinced that sustainable development is to be achieved by introducing new patterns of production and consumption which require rethinking the international economic order.

12.       Where the political decisions reached at Johannesburg are concerned, it is essential to realise that they will remain inoperative unless they are coupled with the tangible implementation of the action plan, which is the collective responsibility of all players involved.

13.       Hence the national parliaments and multilateral interparliamentary bodies like the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly have a duty to make their contribution both through their legislative action and through the pressure which they can bring to bear on the governments, or again as elected representatives of civil society.

14.       The Assembly proclaims its commitment to the Johannesburg process and welcomes the contacts established between the parliamentarians who attended the Summit and particularly the initiative taken in conjunction with the European Parliament to hold an interparliamentary round table. This made it possible to identify the contribution which might be made to the process and to formulate proposals.

15.       The Assembly is convinced in particular that it would be worthwhile to attach greater importance to the role of parliamentarians in the future negotiations and in this kind of Summit generally. Like most of the parliamentarians who were present in Johannesburg, it feels that their contribution to the WSSD preparatory process was not adequately taken into account and that this situation must change in the future. It therefore insists that the new agreements be subject to increased parliamentary control and that parliamentarians be associated more in the implementation of the decisions taken.

16.       For its part, it welcomes the proposal made by its representatives and those of the European Parliament attending in Johannesburg to look into the possibility of an arrangement to monitor the undertakings made by the countries in the framework of certain environmental agreements, notably the Kyoto Protocol.

17.       In the light of the foregoing, the Parliamentary Assembly recommends the Committee of Ministers:

a.       to take account of the decisions reached at the Johannesburg Summit and to ensure that the Council of Europe intergovernmental work programme contributes to its fulfilment, particularly as regards social cohesion and environmental protection;

b.       to pinpoint the reasons why the Council of Europe Conventions on Civil Liability for damage resulting from Activities dangerous to the Environment (Lugano, 1993) and on Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law (Strasbourg, 1998) are not yet in force, and to consider possible actions which might induce the member states to ratify these two instruments;

c.       to ensure that the next pan-European Conference of Environment Ministers (Kyiv, 21-23 May 2003) to whose preparation the Council of Europe is contributing will also be placed in the context of implementing the Johannesburg programme of action and will fully appreciate the contribution which the Council of Europe can make in this context;

d.       to invite the governments of the member states to profit from the framework of co-operation offers by the Council of Europe for the partnerships established after Johannesburg, in particular by taking advantage of the project opportunities offered by the Council of Europe Development Bank.

II.       Draft resolution

1.       Ten years after the Rio Summit, the Heads of State and/or Government of the world’s countries met in Johannesburg from 26 August to 4 September 2002 to settle a plan for the practical implementation of the actions specified ten years earlier but yet to be put into effect;

2.       This Summit reaffirmed the three strands of sustainable development (social, economic and environmental) and reiterated the determination to combat extreme poverty, social exclusion and degradation of our planet’s natural resources.

3.       The Assembly has noted that where outcomes are concerned the Johannesburg Summit was credited with a slight edge over the Rio Summit. This advance was due to a stronger political will and probably to the larger presence of economic players with whom the governing class and civil society cemented actions of partnership aimed at attaining specific goals.

4.       In spite of this, the assessment of the Assembly is an action plan that remains weak, one in which disappointment remains considerable with regard to certain questions such as energy, biodiversity, regulation of world markets and change in production and consumption patterns.

5.       The down-beat assessment of a Summit of this kind has encountered a severe verdict from a significant part of the international community, some of whose members have even seen it as challenging the role of multilateral co-operation.

6.       The Assembly, while regretting that the results of the Johannesburg Summit are not more conclusive, is nonetheless convinced of the expediency of a process which has made it possible to carry out a useful effort of reflection giving prominence to certain otherwise neglected issues.

7.       Unfortunately, the fact must be faced that some of the undertakings made at these meetings may be in vain. The Assembly considers that it is therefore indispensable that all parties involved should make every effort to ensure that the declarations of intent are actually followed up with definite moves.

8.       In that respect, the Assembly deplores the fact that the United States has pulled out of the Kyoto process and that Russia, after announcing at the Summit that it would shortly ratify the Kyoto Protocol, does not yet seem ready to take this decision, thus impeding the instrument’s entry into force.

9.       In this spirit, parliamentary action can make a useful contribution. National parliaments as well as interparliamentary co-operation bodies such as the Parliamentary Assembly, can play a part in achieving the set objectives, both through their legislative action and by means of the pressure that they can bring to bear on the governments, or again as the elected representatives of civil society.

10.       In this connection the Assembly especially welcomes the co-operation built up with the European Parliament on the occasion of the latest Conferences of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

11.       It has also noted with satisfaction that at the Johannesburg Summit an interparliamentary round table was organised with the European Parliament to identify a possible parliamentary contribution to the process.

12.       The Assembly moreover shares the concern of the parliamentarians present in Johannesburg that parliamentary bodies should be associated more closely with these negotiations and with the follow-up to the decisions. It therefore insists that the new agreements be subjected to increased parliamentary control and that the parliamentarians be associated more with action to implement the decisions taken.

13.       It accordingly expresses all the more interest in the proposal put forward at the conclusion of the round table to look into the possibility of arranging parliamentary monitoring of the undertakings made in respect of the environment, and specifically the Kyoto Protocol.

14.       In the light of the foregoing, the Parliamentary Assembly:

a.       decides to continue and develop the co-operation with the European Parliament in this field in order to ascertain ways and means for a process of monitoring by the two assemblies of undertakings made in respect of the environment and especially those of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the Kyoto Protocol;

b.       approves and encourages the approaches which it has made with the European Parliament to the Duma for a speedy ratification by Russia of the Kyoto Protocol;

c.       in the same spirit, it considers that efforts should be made to induce the United States, and other countries that have so far indicated their opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, to reconsider their position;

d.       invites national parliaments, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the Parliamentary Assembly for Black Sea Economic Co-operation (PABSEC) to join in the endeavours which it and the European Parliament will be making at the next Conference of Parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change and in the monitoring of the undertakings given in Johannesburg.

III.       Explanatory memorandum by Mr Meale1


1.       Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………….       6

2.       The Parliamentary Assembly’s participation in the Summit …………………………………       7

3.       The Johannesburg Summit – outcome and analysis ………………………………………..       8

      3.1       Introductory remarks …………………………………………………………………..       8

      3.2       Context of the Summit …………………………………………………………………       9

      3.3       Outcome of the Summit ……………………………………………………………….       10

      3.4       Subjects by sector ……………………………………………………………………..       11

4.       Principles and methods …………………………………………………………………………       13

      4.1       General principles ……………………………………………………………………..       13

5.       Other Parties …………………………………………………………………………………….       15

6.       Conclusion and proposals …………………………………………………………………….       16

Appendix 1:       Delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly to the Summit ……………………….       18

Appendix 2:       Programme of the Interparliamentary Round Table ………………………………       19

1.       Introduction

1.       The Parliamentary Assembly has been concerned for many years about issues related to sustainable development, and has followed the main international and European events, such as the Parliamentary meeting on the Rio Summit (Brasilia, November 1992) and the Pan-European Ministerial Conference on the Environment.

2.       In recent years, it has closely followed the development of the Kyoto process. Reacting immediately to the US decision of non-compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, an urgent debate on climate change was held and a parliamentary delegation was appointed to follow the COP-6 2 Conference in Bonn in July 2001.

3.       The Sub-Committee on Sustainable Development (of the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs) subsequently took part in the COP-7 Conference in Marrakech in November 2001. On that occasion it organised a first Parliamentary Round Table together with the European Parliament and representatives of national parliaments, and agreed to organise a second joint Parliamentary Round Table in Johannesburg on the occasion of the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, in August 2002 in Johannesburg.

4.       The purpose of these initiatives was to add a parliamentary dimension to the intergovernmental negotiations and to identify possible interparliamentary action that could contribute to the implementation of the commitments taken by governments.

5.       The Assembly thus participated in the Johannesburg Summit with an eight-member ad hoc Committee, comprising the Chair and Rapporteur and the Chairpersons of three sub-committees of the Committee on the Environment, and one representative each from the Committees on Economic, Social and Political Affairs (see Appendix 1).

6.       The Assembly delegation (which was incorporated within a wider Council of Europe delegation) was headed by Mr Wolfgang Behrendt, First Vice-Chair of the above Committee and representative of the Political Affairs Committee.

7.       Besides following the plenary meetings, the delegation participated in a number of parallel and side events of the Summit and held bilateral meetings with various delegations.

2.       The Parliamentary Assembly’s participation in the Summit

8.       An Interparliamentary Round Table, entitled Pan-European inter-parliamentary contribution to the Johannesburg process”, was organised by the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs, in partnership with the European Parliament. It took place on 27 August 2002 at the Hotel Sandton Sun Intercontinental. The Parliament of South Africa kindly assisted in the organisation of this event.

9.       Appearing in the official programme among the 18 major parallel events of the Summit, the Round Table − chaired jointly by Mr Wolfgang Behrendt, Head of the Parliamentary Assembly delegation, and Mr Alexandre de Roo, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament delegation – was attended by parliamentarians from Europe, Southern Mediterranean countries, Mexico, Africa, Asia and Australia, as well as representatives of other inter-parliamentary bodies, international organisations and NGOs, altogether there were about 50 delegates (see programme in Appendix 2).

10.       The event resulted in considerable pooling of information and in common goal-setting. It provided the opportunity to significantly gear up parliamentary co-operation on these important issues and establish a common platform to help monitor the coherence of actual policies and compliance with the Johannesburg resolutions. It was understood that this was the only means to achieve advances in environmental policy. It also helped to strengthen the awareness of parliamentarians and to take a position on the reinforcement of the possibilities for active involvement of elected representatives in such gatherings.

11.       The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly delegation pressed for the need for immediate action to implement the Kyoto Protocol globally, together with the other agreements reached at the Rio Summit and other major conferences held in Bonn, Marrakech, Doha and Monterrey. The Assembly members stressed the need for greater recognition of, and partnerships among, parliamentarians in the Earth Summit process, including consideration of Council of Europe member states establishing a joint mechanism with the European Parliament and others for the monitoring arrangements necessary to deliver protocol agreements.

12.       Furthermore, the delegation members underscored the importance of responsible management of the environment and resources in the interests of future generations, which, they found, should become a task embracing every remit in each parliament. It was proposed to set up an office of “Commissioner for Future Generations” in all Council of Europe member states’ national parliaments, a position currently operating in the Israeli Knesset. The office would have legal instruments to influence the member states’ resolutions and decisions in keeping with the principles of sustainable development.

13.       The members of the Assembly also attended a parliamentary side-meeting on “Population and sustainable development, reproductive health and gender in poverty reaction”, organised by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Government of South Africa and the UK All-Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health and the IEPFPD. This panel, addressed by the Hon. Mr Trevor Manuel, Minister of Finance of the South African government and Mr Yoshio Yatsu, Chairman of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, was chaired by Mrs Christine McCafferty, Chairperson of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group and member of the Parliamentary Assembly delegation representing the Social Health and Family Affairs Committee. The meeting examined sustainable development and its relationship to health and the environment.

14.       In addition, as it usually does in these kinds of meetings, the Assembly delegation organised a number of bilateral meetings during its stay in Johannesburg.

15.       Thus, it met with Mr V. Lichtiger, Minister of the Environment of Mexico and with representatives of the delegations of Canada, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.

16.       The delegation also held a meeting with the International Secretariat for Water (ISW), which was responsible for co-ordinating the presence of the main NGOs active in the field of water at Johannesburg.

17.       The exchange of views covered the subjects of water management and good governance, the especially the World Assembly of Water Wisdom, a joint initiative of the ISW, Green Cross International and the Maghreb-Machrek Water Alliance, to be held in Kyoto in March 2003. With the main goal of providing access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for all, this Assembly will attempt to produce a statement of principles of what should be a future Framework Convention for Water.

18.       Reaffirming the interest of the Parliamentary Assembly in dialogue with NGOs and civil society, the parliamentary delegation welcomed in particular co-operation in the water management sector in view of the International Water Year – 2003.

19.       Another side event to the Summit that the Assembly delegation attended, on 29-30 August, was the Interparliamentary Union (IPU)/South Africa parliamentary meeting entitled Sustainable development: the role of Parliaments in ensuring implementation and accountability”.

20.       In this respect, it should be recalled that the Parliamentary Assembly, seeing the relevance of giving the Summit a parliamentary dimension, submitted a motion for a resolution at the IPU meeting in Marrakech in March 2002, calling upon it to ensure that the topic reached a broader geographic audience, so as to secure a united and committed approach amongst parliamentarians. It therefore welcomed the IPU initiative to hold a parliamentary forum during the Summit, thus bringing the influence of parliamentarians worldwide to bear on the intergovernmental negotiations towards the Programme of Action that the Summit was expected to adopt.

3.       The Johannesburg Summit – outcome and analysis

21.       It should be pointed out that the aim of the following text is to make an analysis of the results of Johannesburg in order to provide an analytical tool with which to identify the priorities in the decisions and actions which the Parliamentary Assembly, national parliaments, interparliamentary bodies or local and regional authorities will be required to take in the follow-up to the Johannesburg Summit. Thus, sectoral questions have purposely only been touched upon.

22.       The texts produced by the Johannesburg Summit should not be considered in isolation but in their institutional context and especially in the context of the international conferences that have taken place since Rio. They should also be viewed against the background of the type of conflicts and power relationships which came to light during the negotiations themselves, as well as of the opportunities presented by even the weakest and least binding passages of the text.

23.       The fundamental issue is the implementation of world social and environmental regulations in the face of the liberalisation of economic exchanges. Johannesburg simultaneously strengthens the environmental pillar of sustainable development, repositions within that development the problems of eradicating poverty and introduces new factors such as cultural diversity.

24.       The regulations are based on institutions, principles of action, standards, commitments and programmes of action and experimentation at all levels. They imply a partial abandonment of state sovereignty for the benefit of international institutions but, as this aim is far from being shared by all countries, "non-governmental" initiatives may be undertaken by states a posteriori. The encouragement of corporate environmental and social responsibility and accountability, for example, proposed in Article 173, is based on the ISO and on the Global Reporting Initiative sponsored by the UNEP, business and the NGOs, in other words on non-intergovernmental processes.

25.       The complexity and interconnectedness of the issues mean that an essential role has to be played by "network diplomacy" and by governance mechanisms which create new relations between the public sector (states and local authorities) and the private sector (associations, business). The text of the Plan of Implementation appeals more than ten times to the concept of private/public partnership and many of the actions proposed imply a joint private and public financing approach.

26.       The rhetoric of sustainable development calls for the systematic search for solutions that will be win-win from the triple economic, social and environmental points of view, but also for such a search to be conducted between countries, particularly those of the North and South, and in conjunction with what is called public/private partnerships. This approach is not without its ambiguities or even hypocrisy in certain cases. Nevertheless, while contradictory interests and power relationships exist, internationally accepted solutions can proceed only from co-operative negotiation based on a minimum of trust. For certain questions there may be agreement on the objectives but disagreement on the means or on the real consequences of the measures that might be taken. These factors make it all the more necessary for the preparations for this type of conference to be made with all parties concerned before the start of the actual negotiations but also for these negotiations to be followed up, bearing in mind that they represent a succession of conferences, with the conclusions of the one being the point of entry to the next.

27.       While the text marks the progress of multilateralism, of the central role of the United Nations (§32 of the political declaration) and of the legitimacy of international conventions, particularly the Multilateral Environment Agreements (MAE), many blockages remain. These are inherent in the network diplomacy mentioned above, inter alia because of the forging of alliances between countries which have divergent interests but which prefer the status quo and hold up any advance. The "Viennese" system adopted for the negotiations, ie that based on blocs (G77, European Union, United States and its allies etc), can also block proposals. Oil interests, particularly Saudi Arabia, will reject initiatives by Brazil and Latin America concerning renewable energy within the G77 Group, with the European Union being unable to back an initiative which has not been tabled.

28.       This is the framework in which the Council of Europe must define its role, namely to: a) strengthen the capacity of national parliaments to follow up the actions of their governments; b) bring together the positions of member and non-member countries in order to prepare proposals on which agreement may be reached, particularly on matters raising the greatest number of problems, and thus come to international negotiations with a common strategy; and c) become part of the networks of influence and take political initiatives (whether conceptual or methodological).

29.       The American system of foundations and the large US NGOs give the United States a capacity for innovation and initiative which has no equivalent in Council of Europe member countries. Linguistic diversity, an advantage in respect of cultural diversity that represents the very essence of European identity, can be a handicap unless accompanied by a proactive policy of developing multilingual work networks at European level.

3.2       Context of the Summit

30.       The Johannesburg Summit should be seen in the historical context of a succession of international events. The 1992 Rio Summit gave political endorsement to the Brundtland Commission report, particularly to the concept of sustainable development. This concept was afterwards taken over by a number of international conferences: Cairo (population) in 1994, Copenhagen (social summit) in 1995, Peking (women) in 1995 and, finally, Istanbul (Habitat II) in 1996, somewhat incorrectly called the Summit of Cities. Most of these summits were followed by a "plus 5", ie by a conference to assess progress after five years. For Rio, the Rio plus 5 General Assembly was held in June 1997 in New York but with a technical membership which was unable to reproduce the enthusiasm of the Rio Summit. The NGOs met in March in Rio but denounced a "Rio minus 5" summit because of their deep disappointment at the failure to implement the Rio commitments.

31.       The Johannesburg Summit was attended by 104 heads of state and of government and 21000 other persons, consisting of 9000 delegates, 8000 NGOs and 4000 press representatives, according to official figures. Because of the size and diversity of the delegations and the number of civil-society organisations, businesses and local authorities, Johannesburg bears a certain resemblance to the Rio conference but was not a Rio plus 10.

32.       In fact, the World Summit on Sustainable Development is also one of a line of international summits held in the new century and their commitments: the Millennium Declaration (United Nations, March 20004), the programme of work of the Doha Declaration (World Trade Organisation, November 2001), the Monterrey Consensus (on development financing, March 2002) and, at a less institutional level, the G8 meeting, which gave special attention to the development of Africa.

33.       The commitments made by these different conferences are therefore to be found in the Plan of Implementation.

34.       The Millennium Declaration undertook to "halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of the world's people whose income is less than $1 a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger" and to "halve by the year 2015 the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water". This commitment is included in the Johannesburg text and is supplemented by access to sanitation.

35.       The Doha Declaration, which recognises the special vulnerability of the least developed countries, proposes that "properly targeted programmes of technical assistance and strengthening of capacity enjoying sustainable financing" should play a role in ensuring that those countries obtain a share of the increase in world trade. The WTO's programme of work aims at a better linkage with the Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEA) but the primary objective is to eliminate barriers to trade which have a negative impact on the environment. Similarly, on the subject of biodiversity, the Johannesburg Declaration "promotes the discussions, without prejudging their outcome, with regard to the relationships between the Convention and agreements related to international trade and intellectual property rights" (§42r). However, although the Johannesburg Declaration states that there is no mutual subordination between the WTO and the MEAs, the situation is an unbalanced one inasmuch as the WTO has a system for settling disputes whereas such a system does not exist for the environment. The proposal by the World Environment Organisation did not materialise.

36.       The Monterrey Consensus was obtained on increasing official development assistance, in particular by renewing the extremely longstanding commitment to set aside 0.7% of the GNP of wealthy countries for ODA. This commitment appears in §79 of the plan of implementation. It is therefore not relevant to follow the "outcomes" of Johannesburg as such without considering the different projects initiated, for which Johannesburg was only a stage, albeit a fundamental one.

37.       In this connection, it is important that organisations and parties particularly concerned with sustainable development should be able to take a close interest in the negotiating round opened at Doha, which could place sustainable development at the very centre of WTO activity and strengthen inter alia the MAEs. This question, which is linked to the cross-cutting nature of sustainable development, poses a problem for sectorally organised institutions such as government ministries or committees set up by assemblies.

38.       The future timetable includes, for example, the World Water Forum in Kyoto in March and the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva in December. The Evian G8 is due to take a closer look at questions of corporate responsibility, science and support for Africa (NEPAD).

3.3       Outcome of the Summit

Plan of implementation

39.       Two major documents came out of the summit: a short political declaration and a plan of implementation. The latter is a fifth of the size of its counterpart, Rio Agenda 21. More detailed proposals will be found in the initiative entitled WEHAB which reproduces the five objectives which the United Nations Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan had set for the summit and for which concrete results were essential and achievable: water and sanitation, energy, agricultural productivity, biodiversity and eco-system management, and health. Five sectoral documents produced following an internal UN consultation process were tabled and, according to the United Nations, "could provide a structure for partnerships in these five areas and in this regard could potentially serve as a framework for benchmarking action and monitoring progress in the follow-up to the WSSD". However, these documents were not negotiated and are not in the final document.

40.       The plan of implementation opens by stressing the importance of eradicating poverty in fields listed by sector in the next chapter (Chapter 2), followed by two chapters on the changing of unsustainable consumption and production methods (Chapter 3, including energy, transport, hazardous waste and chemicals) and on the protection and management of the natural resources which are the basis of economic and social development (Chapter 4, which represents a quarter of the text of the plan, including water, the oceans and coastal areas, disaster limitation,, climate, air pollution, agriculture, desertification, mountain areas, tourism, biodiversity, forests and mines and minerals). Chapter 5 deals with globalisation and Chapter 6 with health. The succeeding three chapters cover regional problems, small island states and sustainable development for Africa. The last two chapters discuss means of implementation (technology transfer, research/development/education, strengthening of capacity and education) and the institutional framework.

41.       A seven-page UN/DESA document summarises the Johannesburg results and financial commitments and these are not given here. The World-Wide Fund for Nature has been replenished and its resources may be earmarked for desertification control.

42.       At the institutional level, the plan of implementation enhances the role of the Commission on Sustainable Development in monitoring the implementation of Agenda 21 and strengthening the coherence of sustainable-development approaches and the follow-up of partnerships (particularly type II). The plan requests states to draw up their sustainable-development strategies for implementation in 2005.

Ratification of Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs)

43.       Ratification and enlargement of the number of parties signatory to the Multilateral Environment Agreements are among the objectives of the plan of implementation. The chapter on chemicals is more stringent than that of Rio Agenda 21 and calls for the urgent signing of the current agreements so that the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions in particular can be implemented.

Convention or agreement

Target year for implementation

Status of COE member countries

Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent Procedures for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade


Signature 49%

Ratif., Acceptance , Approval, Accession 26%

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants


Signature 88% Ratification 21%

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea



Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea



Convention on Biological Diversity



Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety



Convention on Climate change



Kyoto       Protocol

“in a timely manner”


Table: example of MEAs supported by the plan of implementation and level of ratification by Council of Europe member countries

44.       The implementation by the member countries of the MEAs in the plan of implementation5 could be followed by the Parliamentary Assembly and, in particular, the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs. The chapter on regional actions regards certain specific commitments made in Europe as contributions to sustainable development: for example, the Aarhus Convention (which is the basis for 119ter of the plan of implementation, although the latter makes no mention of that convention, for which fruitless efforts have been made to turn it into a global agreement), the Alpine Convention, the Boundary Waters Treaty, the Declaration of the Iqaluit Arctic Treaty, Agenda 21 of the Baltic and that of the Mediterranean, and the North American Commission for Environmental Co-operation.

45.       Such action would lend itself to the same kind of follow-up that our Committee and the European Parliament have proposed, notably for the Kyoto Protocol.

3.4       Subjects by sector

46.       The subjects discussed include some which fall within the committee's remit as follows.

Changing of production and consumption methods

47.       The third part of the plan of implementation concerns the changing of unsustainable methods of production and consumption. This crucial aspect is to be the subject of a 10-year framework programme "delinking economic growth and environmental degradation through improving efficiency and sustainability in the use of resources and production processes". The plan envisages the establishment of centres of excellence for energy and clean technology. It proposes the use of assessment tools and methods (see below). This opens up an area of conflict with the WTO, which prohibits discrimination between products on the basis of their mode of production (production processes and methods). The first UNEP documents are now circulating.

48.       Transport is mentioned, together with the necessity for developing mass transport and countering urban sprawl, areas in which Europe, with its tradition of town and country planning, can play an essential part.

49.       The plan also deals with the implementation of corporate environmental and social responsibility, refers to the Global Compact Initiative and supports the Global Reporting Initiative. The European Union is taking a particular interest in this subject (see, inter alia, the July 2002 communication by the European Commission on environmental and social responsibility) and on 16 October launched a multilateral European forum on the topic. The ISO (International Standards Organization) is currently conducting a debate on sustainable-development systems. AFNOR (the French Standards Association) has produced a guideline document on this topic for public debate.

50.       The subject of water represents one of the great advances made at the Johannesburg Summit. Under pressure from the European Union, sanitation, a subject omitted in the Millenium Declaration, was included among the targets. Access to water is an integral part of the eradication of poverty. This item led to certain debates about essential services (type II initiative in the Charter of Essential Services), which are, however, not mentioned in the text.

51.       Integrated management, eg by river basins, is progressing. However, there are grounds for anxiety about the lack of linkage with the management of aquatic eco-systems. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has organised a water event but outside the Waterdome, the site of debates between business and civil society.

52.       Sustained European effort should be directed at demand management, the management of conflicts of use arising from the resource's growing scarcity and management of the aquatic environment.

53.       President Romano Prodi has submitted a European initiative concerning water. International work on this topic will continue with the 3rd World Water Forum to be held in March 2003 in Kyoto.

54.       There is no doubt that this subject requires special follow-up and a high priority in the coming months. Our Committee and the Assembly in general has always been active on all aspects of water resource management. Ten year after the “Blue Europe” programme that the Assembly organised on these issues, our Committee is determined to take initiatives enabling the Assembly and the Council of Europe to make a valid contribution to the International Water Year 2003.


55.       Energy was the subject of blockages. While the plan proposes the diversification of energy sources and, in particular, an increase in the share derived from renewable energy, no decision was taken either on a percentage or on a timetable. The proposal by Brazil that the use of renewable energy be increased by 1% each year was blocked in G77. The Millenium Development Goals for access to energy are an element in the eradication of poverty (the goal is to halve poverty by 2015).

56.       The proposal to eliminate distortions of competition due to harmful subsidies forms part of the general discussion of state subsidies. Programmes should be established for the conduct of research and development and the dissemination of technology, particularly that of energy conservation.


57.       The debate stopped at agricultural subsidies and left no opportunity for questions to be put about sustainable agriculture and its relations with other problems such as water and irrigation, biodiversity and genetic inheritance, desertification and soil management, local development and diversity of agricultural models etc. Questioned about subsidies, Europe is due to re-open initiatives on these points and propose a sustainable-agriculture model.

58.       Debates such as those concerning agricultural production in fragile zones like mountain regions can easily be tabled at world level for both mountain and island regions. The processes involved in protected registered designations of origin, protected geographical ascriptions and guaranteed traditional specialities could be made part of the coming WTO negotiating round. Paragraph 93 indicates routes to this end. However, such tools must be linked to other sustainable-development concerns relating to the environment and resource management.


59.       The plan of implementation also deals with biodiversity because of the steady increase in the rate at which animal and plant species are disappearing. The goal is only to re-establish by 2015 a maximum sustainable yield for fish stocks and not to restore them. Nevertheless, the subject is causing anxiety and is receiving particular attention. As regards the loss of biodiversity the aim is to achieve a "significant reduction" by 2010 and to start reversing the trend by the same date. However, no specific commitment was made regarding species protection.

60.       This subject, and in particular a possible contribution to it by Council of Europe, will be covered in another report that the Committee is preparing in view of the Pan-European Conference of Ministers responsible for the Environment, to be held in Kiev in spring 2003.


61.       The text of §36 reproduces the Millennium Declaration: "to make every effort to ensure the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, preferably by the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 2002". Canada, China and Russia have announced their intention of ratifying the Kyoto protocol.

62.       At present Russia is responsible for 17.4% of greenhouse emissions. This in itself is an indication of how crucial Russia is to the negotiations: implementation of the protocol depends on Russian ratification.

63.       From the bilateral meetings which Assembly representatives had with representatives of the Russian Federation at COP 6.5, COP 7, COP 8 and the Johannesburg Summit, it was clear that Russia regarded ratification of the Protocol as conditional on the outcome of the negotiations on carbon sinks and future investment, which Russia needs for sustainable economic development.

64.       On this particular point, the Parliamentary Assembly and European Parliament delegations advocated parliamentary action to assist and speed up negotiations and allow ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

65.       At Johannesburg it was suggested that a series of meetings be held in Moscow so that Parliamentary Assembly and European Parliament representatives could meet the relevant parliamentary committees. Such meetings would be useful in preparation for the conference on climate change which President Putin has announced and could be a step towards ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

4.       Principles and Methods

66.       Sustainable development is a global project as stated in the Johannesburg plan of implementation: "Peace, security, stability and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, as well as respect for cultural diversity, are essential for achieving sustainable development and ensuring that sustainable development benefits all." (§ 5) This recognition of cultural diversity is in line with the values promoted by the Council of Europe.

67.       The Johannesburg action principles reinforce the Rio principles by making overall reference to them in the preamble to the plan of implementation. Some of the Rio principles are also mentioned in the text, which strongly confirms their validity. For example, the text refers five times to the principle of joint but differentiated responsibility, quoting it in full in §75. It twice mentions the precautionary principle, quoting it in full in §103, twice also principle 16 ("polluter pays") and principle 11 on effective legislative measures and, once, the principle which places man at the centre of sustainable development and lays down his right to live in harmony with nature (principle 1), the eradication of poverty (principle 5) and involvement of the public in decisions (principle 10). However, what might be regarded as a new principle, namely that measures introduced should not erect barriers to trade, is mentioned five times. The plan remains under WTO's vigilant eye.

68.       The application of these principles must be seen from the point of view of possible initiatives for states in both the juridical and the financial fields.

69.       Mention should be made in this connection of the concept of public goods, particularly world public goods. A Monterrey working text considered that "it is important to encourage the sustained development of world public goods, such as the control of contagious diseases, protection of the environment, financial stability and knowledge in the service of development" but was not included in the final declaration. This represents a crucial point in the debate opposing certain, economic, social and environmental regulations and the free market. Reference should be made here to the joint initiative by the Swedish and French governments and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which in Johannesburg set up an international working party on world public goods.

70.       Another initiative launched in Johannesburg was the charter of essential services, which is a subject of more local concern. World public goods and essential services justify a political debate on the limits of the market and on the partly economic and financial mechanisms for tackling issues which cannot be dealt with by the market.

4.2       Information

71.       Information is an essential element for implementing sustainable development (§ 119ter to § 119undeciens). Global-level information and, in particular, satellite observation allow better management of resources and the environment: agriculture, deforestation, mapping, exploration, geology, prevention and management of environmental risks and disasters

72.       The GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) programme is part of this objective and is to be strengthened, together with co-operation with international scientific programmes such as the IGBP (International Geosphere Biosphere Programme) and WCRP (World Climate Research Programme).

73.       This information should enhance the capability of science to deal both with climate change itself and strategies for adapting to it. Such scientific expertise is also of strategic importance for negotiating Multilateral Environment Agreements, especially with respect to the United States, for developing co-operation with major powers like Russia, China and India and for supporting co-operation with developing countries. From this point of view, the outlying regions of Europe act as an observatory and provide an opportunity for co-operation with small island developing states, who play a positive, albeit over-weak, role in G77 proceedings concerning climate change. Science is well placed with respect to means of implementation (§104).

74.       Accordingly, for the sake of efficiency, particularly financial efficiency, action must be taken to develop a double duality, ie a civil/military duality regarding the use of satellites6 themselves and a private/public duality.

75.       As regards information for decision-making, Chapter 40 of Agenda 21 requires that information be available at all decision-making levels. Certain essential information must therefore be available to the public and widely accessible. However, the management of that information (collection, processing, storage, dissemination) must be based on research and development activities and particularly on high-performing industry. Member countries must develop their vision of the information economy, which should be regarded as a public good. This point should be borne in mind at the Information Society Summit in Geneva in December 2002.

4.3       Mastery of tools and standards for sustainable development

76.       Sustainable development is bringing about a profound change in concepts, practices and means at all levels. The new technical mechanisms, technologies and standards introduced have highly structuring effects such that they are often used as "conditionalities" for public financing or market access.

77.       Economic environment-related tools such as environmental-impact assessments, life-cycle analysis, energy and water control, management or product standards and the implementation of multi-partnership, local Agenda 21 type processes allow resources for development to be mobilised and managed in an optimum way. The mastery, dissemination and appropriation of these tools by all countries and at all levels must be organised.

78.       In all this, Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) are only one element of the debate. Tools, such as the ecological footprint, emerging from the universities are taken over today by NGOs. Economic tools based on economic theories are promoted by OECD among others. The proposal for local Agendas 21 made by an NGO in Rio has led to considerable experimentation, particularly at European level, through voluntary initiatives by local authorities and national campaigns and legislation. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) required of international companies (and included in certain member countries' legislation) resulted from negotiation between the UNEP, industrialists' organisations and associations. Quasi-standards for assessing business performance in the economic, social and environmental fields have been produced by private rating firms. The ISO is considering a study on business social responsibility and has been called on to guarantee access by countries of the South to the standardisation process. The complexity of these initiatives is dealt with under the new network diplomacy already mentioned.

79.       The public authorities and thus the member states must:

5.       Other Parties

5.1        Type-II initiatives

80.       Reducing the Johannesburg Summit to just the official declaration and the plan of implementation does not reflect reality. A second element is undoubtedly the successful experiences and the failures reported in the collective experimentation that sustainable development has undergone since Rio. This aspect is found in concrete form in the twofold arrangement established by the United Nations: negotiation proper and type-II partnership initiatives. In doing this, the United Nations was recognising that the implementation of sustainable development does not depend exclusively on states and international organisations but also on partnerships between intergovernmental organisations, governments, local authorities, NGOs, business and research and education institutions. It also comes from network diplomacy under which these different players take part, together with the representatives of states, in discussions, international negotiations and the implementation of solutions. Some 228 type-II partnerships have been posted on the United Nations site. Initial fears that these type-II initiatives would dilute multilateralism by taking the place of state commitments have proved unfounded.

5.2        Local authorities

81.       The political declaration makes no reference to local authorities and simply asserts the necessity to "strengthen and improve governance at all levels" (Article 27) and to “strengthen the interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development - economic development, social development and environmental protection – at local, national, regional and global levels” (Article 5). It does not mention the question of local Agendas 21.

82.       It should be pointed out here that, at European level, the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy7 regretted that "both the Commission's communications make little mention of the contribution of local and regional authorities to sustainable development, despite Agenda 21's defining of local government as a 'major group', one of the nine key partners in delivering sustainable development". The relevant paragraph was deleted at the Bali PremCom and was not reinstated at Johannesburg.

83.       The international city associations adopted on 30th August a resolution by local governments regretting that "the draft plan of implementation does not include a specific section on local authorities, contrary to the 1992 Rio declaration" and calling on "national governments to amend the texts accordingly and ensure that the political declaration incorporates a reference to the essential role of local government in the implementation of sustainable development". The resolution was accepted but had no effect on the negotiations.

6.       Conclusion and proposals

84.       The Johannesburg Summit confirms the Rio diagnoses and objectives on many points. Numerous blockages remain but have been fairly clearly identified. The predicted failure did not occur.

85.       But while the movement may be in the right direction, is the tempo right? It has to be remembered that in order to stabilise the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere emissions must be reduced by 40 to 50%. Yet the Kyoto Protocol, which proposed a reduction of only 5%, will be ratified on the cheap without the main contributor, the United States of America.

86.       The large number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) coming out of Rio is particularly significant. Ten years on, difficult negotiations are still required to ensure that some of these agreements (such as the Kyoto Protocol) achieve their intended goals. Other agreements (eg. the Biodiversity Convention), have been difficult to implement and the results have often been poor. Moreover, a number of instruments, such as the Convention to combat desertification, are still a dead letter.

87.       Also, although the Plan of Implementation contains objectives with figures and dates, it is especially weak on means of execution and has nothing on follow-up and assessment arrangements.

88.       However, one thing is certain: the situation with regard to both the environment and development has deteriorated over the past 10 years: deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise, access to water for everyone still appears unattainable and resources continue to be depleted. Matters are hardly any better as far as development is concerned: absolute poverty and inequality are increasing. And environmental concerns and sustainable development are still nowhere near the top of our governments’ political agendas.

89.       In order to meet these challenges, it is now essential to have a more integrated view of the situation, our obligations and the action that needs to be taken. It is no longer merely urgent but essential that political decisions go hand in hand with a practical plan of action in which the link between the environment and development is clearly established and which fully respects human and social rights.

90.       All parliamentary action and in particular any steps taken by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe must be in keeping with this spirit and approach. National parliaments and inter-parliamentary bodies such as our Assembly can make two major contributions.

91.       First of all, they can put pressure on their respective governments and the intergovernmental executive bodies to help implement commitments and decisions. Secondly, as elected representatives, they can establish and maintain dialogue with civil society.

92.       As in the case of other major conferences, in particular the recent conferences of parties to the Framework Convention on Climatic Change, the delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly took the opportunity of the Johannesburg Summit to consult its counterparts in national parliaments or assemblies such as the European Parliament or the IPU and to meet a number of governmental delegations.

93.       These many meetings provided the opportunity to put forward a number of preliminary proposals for a Parliamentary Assembly contribution to the Johannesburg process.

94.       The Parliamentary Assembly and European Parliament delegations both wish to see more importance given to the parliamentary role and propose that they should monitor a number of the agreements or decisions emerging from the Johannesburg Process. The two delegations have decided to join forces in considering the measures that might be taken to enable the two assemblies not only to monitor but also contribute to the implementation of the decisions taken.

95.       Representatives of the two assemblies have had meetings and, as already stated, precise steps are going to be taken to help bring about speedy Russian ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

96.       In line with the action plan which the summit produced and the priorities which the committee has set, there could be further initiatives at parliamentary level as part of following up the Johannesburg summit.

97.       On the basis of my experience at Johannesburg and other summits I have attended, I remain convinced - as do members of the various Assembly delegations - that a parliamentary role in this kind of process is valuable and fully justified. Action by the Parliamentary Assembly, in particular in co-operation with the European Parliament and the Interparliamentary Union, can play a significant part in achieving concrete outcomes to various processes. In addition it makes it possible for the communities affected to be involved through their democratically elected representatives.

Appendix 1

Delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 26 August – 4 September 2002)

AGIUS Francis, Chairman of the Sub-Committee of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Committee on the Environment and Agriculture, representative of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development (Malta)

BEHRENDT Wolfgang, Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Environment and Agriculture, representative of the Political Affairs Committee (Germany), Chairman

CHAPMAN Sir Sydney, Chairman of the Sub-Committee of Sustainable Development of the Committee on the Environment and (United Kingdom)

GIOVANELLI Fausto, member of the Committee on the Environment and Agriculture (Italy)

GOULET Daniel, Chairman of the Sub-Committee of Food and Consumer Protection of the Committee on the Environment and Agriculture (France)

LACHAT François, Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Local and Regional Democracy of the Committee on the Environment and Agriculture (Switzerland)

McCAFFERTY Christine, representative of the Committee on Social, Health and Family Affairs (United Kingdom)

MEALE Alan, member of the Committee on the Environment and Agriculture, Rapporteur on climate change (United Kingdom)

Appendix 2

Programme of the Inter-parliamentary Round Table

“The Pan-European Inter-parliamentary contribution to the Johannesburg Process”

2nd Inter-Parliamentary Round Table

Tuesday, 27 August 2002, 2-5 p.m.

Jacaranda Room (Sandton Sun Inter-Continental Hotel)

organised by

the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

and the European Parliament

with the assistance of the South African Parliament

2 pm       Opening of the Round Table

4-5 pm       General Discussion

Reporting committee: Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs

Committees for opinion: Committee on Economic Affairs and Development and Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee

Reference to committee: Doc. 9597 and Reference No. 2777 of 18 November 2002

Draft recommendation and draft resolution adopted by the committee on 16 December 2002

Members of the committee: Mr Martinez Casañ (Chairman), MM. Behrendt, Hornung, Stankevic (Vice-Chairmen), Mr Agius, Mrs Agudo, MM. Akçali, Akselsen, Mrs Angelovicova, MM. Annemans, Blaauw, Sir Sydney Chapman, MM. Churkin, Ciemniak, Cosarciuc, Delattre (Alternate: Cousin), Dokle, Ekes, von der Esch, Etherington, Frunda (Alternate: Kelemen), Giovanelli, Gonzalez de Txabarri (Alternate: de Puig), Graas, Grachev, Grissemann, Gubert, Ms Hajiyeva (Alternate: Mr Huseynov), MM. Haraldsson, Hladiy, Ilascu (Alternate: Mocioi), Janowski, Juric, Kalkan, Mrs Kanelli, Mr Kharitonov, Lord Kilclooney (Alternate: Mr Wray), MM. Klympush, Lachat (Alternate: Ms Fehr), Lobkowicz, Loncle, Lozancic, Libicki, van der Linden, Manukyan, Masseret, Mauro, Meale, Mesquita, Meyer (Alternate: Goulet), Müller, Nazaré Pereira, Oliverio (Alternate: Crema), Podobnik, Pollozhani, Popov, Rafaj, Salaridze, Ms Schicker, MM. Schmied, Skoularikis, Ms Stoejberg, Mr Stoica (Alternate: Coifan), Ms Stoyanova, MM. Tabajdi, Theodorou, Timmermans, Tiuri, Truu, Vakilov, Velikov (Alternate: Toshev), Volpinari, Wright (Alternate: Daly), Yürür, Mrs Zetterberg, MM Zhevago, Zierer.

N.B. The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretariat to the committee: Mrs Cagnolati, Mr Sixto, Mr Torčatoriu and Ms Odrats.

1 The Rapporteur wishes to express his gratitude to Mr Christian Brodhag, Director of Research, Ecole nationale supérieure des mines (French Graduate Engineering School) of Saint-Etienne, France, for his valuable collaboration in the preparation of this report.

2 Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

3 Unless otherwise stated references are to paragraphs of World Summit on Sustainable Development, Plan of Implementation, version of 23 September 2002

4 Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, 55th session of the General Assembly, 13th September 2000, A/RES/55/2

5 In that case an exhaustive list of commitments and implementation by member countries will have to be made

6 Development of a European space observation capacity for the security needs of Europe, 48th session of the Assembly of Western European Union, Interim European Assembly on Security and Defence, document A/1789, 5th June 2002

7 Report from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy on the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: Rio, ten years after: preparation for the 2002 world summit on sustainable development. 25th April 2002. Rapporteur: Mihail Papayannakis. COM(2001)53, C5-0342/2001, 2001/2142 (COS), Paragraph 36. (Paragraph 17 Regrets that the Commissions’ both Communications make little mention of the contribution of local and regional authorities to sustainable development, despite Agenda 21’s defining of local government as a ‘major group’, one of the nine key partners in delivering sustainable development,)